It is time to learn about oysters and enjoy these nutritiously delicious bivalves. Oysters may not lead the most glamorous lives clustered together feeding on algae, but they are packed with essential nutrients like protein, zinc, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. In fact oysters are one of the best sources for zinc which boosts your immune system, is essential for mental health, and increases fertility (hence where they get their reputation as an aphrodisiac). Oysters are beneficial for helping prevent cardiovascular disease, protect against osteoporosis, promotes blood circulation, and helps in healing wounds. Whether you are a beginner in the oyster world or you are looking to learn more, here are a few tips on how to enjoy them along with our top 25 favorite oyster bars.
Peak Time To Enjoy
It is now argued that with the advancement in refrigeration and transportation methods that oysters can be enjoyed anytime of year, and while that may be true to an extent, oysters are still at their peak of deliciousness in the chilly months of the fall. For one, colder temperatures outside mean colder water and oysters are always better in colder water. Also, they breed during the summer so in order to grow into healthy oysters and keep a sustainable population it is better for them to be harvested in the fall, which most are.
For the Oyster Virgin
If you have never been into oysters may we recommend trying the small and extremely tasty Kumamoto. Also Murder Point Oysters out of Alabama are delicious, buttery and beautiful. In fact the first time I had them I could not get over how tasty as well as how white and clean the shell was, so I went home and began to look them up, imagine how delightful to discover that they are raised in Alabama by a five generation fisherman family.
If You Like It Big
If you prefer a larger oyster, opt for Blue Points or Apalachicola.
If you prefer briny (aka salty), Raspberry Points have a high brininess with a clean and sweet finish. Cuttyhunks are a great choice as are Olde Salts from Chincoteague Bay (one of the briniest around), and the Charleston original Capers Blades introduced by Clammer Dave.
The Sweet Stuff
Do not like briny? Go for sweet like Rappahannocks, Hog Island Sweetwaters, Fanny Bay, or Totten Inlet. Or try the oyster everyone is talking about the Point aux Pins oysters farmed and harvested in Grand Bay, Alabama. With light brininess, a smaller size compared to Gulf oysters, and a taste that is delightful, Point aux Pins are among the highest quality oysters because they are raised using off-bottom oyster farming.
For The Wild Ones
Want a wild one? Most oysters are farm raised, however Apalachicolas are born and raised completely wild, other natural choices include some Chincoteagues, Malpeques, Caraquets, Martha’s Vineyards, and Chesapeakes.
For A Little Strange
Want to try something unique order Murder Point, Sweet Jesus, Point aux Pins, Little Bitches, Duxbury, Riptide, Olympias, Colville Bays, or Whale Rocks (you may have to travel to find these). Want to harvest your own? Plan a trip to Washington State to Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm or Topping, Virginia to Merrior where you can taste the variety of oysters harvested by the Rappahannock Oyster Company throughout the region.
Sip And See
Beausoleils are best with bubbly and we think Point aux Pins and champagne make a great pair too. Most people recommend briny oysters with nice cold beer. Briny oysters like Chincoteagues also pair well with dry rose wines like a Le Grand Noir Rose or Chateau Saint-Sulpice Sarah Bordeaux Clairet.
Our Top 25 Favorite Oyster Bars
- The Optimist Atlanta, Georgia – The Optimist would rival any oyster bar in the United States as the BEST oyster bar ever. The Optimist serves a revolving selection of more than 10 varieties of the most excellent oysters you will find. From Raspberry Points to Bama Beauties. An absolute must for any oyster lover. The Optimist also boasts a vibrant energy and beautifully displayed oyster case filled with the daily selections.
- Mignonette Miami, Florida – High quality, unique selection of oysters on display on ice right when you walk in. Mignonette gives you a whole new reason to travel to Miami. This new favorite South Florida eatery will have you dreaming of your next bivalve jaunt. Plus the knowledgeable and incredibly kind staff make your dining experience truly one of the most enjoyable.
- Grand Central Oyster Bar New York,New York – A hustling and bustling scene equipped with red checkered tablecloths and the widest selection of oysters you can imagine. An absolute MUST for any bivalve lover. The service is fantastic – they were attentive and accommodating to my 6 year old, even wanting their photo made with my mini oyster eater. Dive in and dine on all the oysters your curiosity allows. This is an oyster experience you will long remember and look forward to doing again and again.
- Taylor Shellfish Farms Oyster Bars Seattle, Washington – The Taylor family has been growing shellfish for over 100 years. From the moment the oyster seed leaves the hatchery, to the day a crop is harvested, it is nurtured and protected from predators. Taylor Oyster Bars create a direct relationship between Taylor Shellfish Farms and your table with multiple locations in Capitol Hill, Lower Queen Anne, and Pioneer Square.
- 5 Point Public House Birmingham, Alabama – From Murder Points to Rappahannocks, this oyster bar and public house boasts a fantastic oyster menu. 5 Point proprietor George Reis is an award winning chef and restauranteur also owning renowned restaurant Ocean.
- The Ordinary Charleston, South Carolina – Fancy is the perfect word to describe this eatery that surpasses ordinary and soars straight into the upper echelon of all dining experiences. The highest quality oysters, check. The most variety of ways to enjoy them, check. Get ready for a spiritual experience with food that should begin with the triple seafood tower.
- Ironside San Diego, California – One of the best restaurants you will ever experience with an oyster bar that will have you saying ‘Shuck Yeah’. Ironside is an absolute MUST for any oyster lover or anyone visiting San Diego.
- Hog Island San Francisco, California – Tomales Bay is where Hog Island grows, shares, and shucks their oysters to share with patrons. They host people at their farm and at their oyster bars in San Francisco and Napa. In 1983 they began growing just one oyster that they called Hog Island Sweetwater. Now they grow 4 of the 5 oysters found on the Northern Hemisphere along with Manila Clams and Mussels.
- Peche New Orleans, Louisiana – Peche is the seafood version from the same NOLA restauranteur as Cochon featuring Hama Hama oysters and Island Creek oysters. Peche has also been honored with 2 James Beard Awards including Best New Restaurant and Chef Ryan Prewitt Best Chef: South.
- Hank’s Charleston, South Carolina – Feel like you are local and enjoy this lively atmosphere of characters young and old. Hank’s has the allure of an old seaside eatery with a sophisticated menu that includes a seafood tower featuring locally harvested oysters like Capers Blades.
- Reef Houston, Texas – Chef Bryan Caswell is a leader in the oyster world and supporter of Gulf oysters. Reef has also been named #1 Seafood Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit Magazine while Chef Bryan Caswell has been a James Beard Award Nominee multiple times. Reef is an absolute must eat for anyone who loves seafood. Enjoy a selection of Gulf oysters on the half shell or try 3rd baked with Swiss Chard, Lime Pickle, and Asiago breadcrumbs or 3rd Fried with a Sriracha Remoulade.
- Fisher’s Orange Beach Orange Beach, Alabama – Ranked one of the 100 Best Restaurants in the South by Southern Living Magazine, Fisher’s at Orange Beach serves up mouth watering sustainable oysters many straight from the waters of the Alabama coast like Murder Point Oysters. Also try the Oysters Earle, named after the local legend Earle Long.
- Neptune Oyster Boston, Massachusetts – An American institution and an oyster lover’s heaven, Neptunes’ fresh seafood is beautifully displayed. Pick out Komamotos and Kusshis of the highest quality. The raw bar is open until 11pm on the weekends.
- Hank’s Oyster Bar Washington DC – The month of October means it is time for Oysterfest at Hank’s Oyster Bar – a day of all you can eat raw oysters, fried oysters, BBQ oysters, and more. Since 2005 Hank’s has been a DC favorite serving up a variety of oysters on the half shell as well as sake oyster shooters from their ice bar.
- Stinky’s Fish Camp Santa Rosa Beach, Florida – Oysters all day, all ways is Stinky’s motto and boy do they mean it! Champagne Broiled, Jalapeño and Cheddar, Raw with Ceviche, The ChumLine Oyster Bar serves them up in the most delicious ways imaginable.
- Highlands Bar & Grill Birmingham, Alabama – Part of the fun is watching the bivalves gut shucked at this iconic restaurant. Pull up to the bar instead of opting for a table and sample their impeccable selection of oysters like Salt Aires, Chatams, Beausoleils, Chincoteagues, and more.
- Marsh House Nashville, Tennessee – Bringing a taste of the new south, Marsh House is arguably Nashville’s best restaurant featuring fresh seafood from the South and a bevy of fresh produce. If you are an oyster lover, this is your spot featuring the best Southern oysters to slide down your throat.
- Woodberry Kitchen Baltimore, Maryland – Specializing in only local oysters from the Chesapeake. A seat at Woodberry means you are always supporting local farmers. Their local oysters include names like War Shores, Skinny Dippers, Choptank Sweets, Battle Creeks.
- The Walrus And The Carpenter Seattle, Washington – A poem graces the homepage of this restaurant: O Oysters, come and walk with us! A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk. Along a briny beach…The Walrus and The Carpenter only serves local oysters and their menu changes daily to ensure they are provising the highest quality to their customers. Selections include Penn Coves, Hama Hamas, Baywater Sweets, Pickering Passages. A true American oyster institution.
- Saltine Jackson, Mississippi – Just honored as one of America’s BEST new restaurants by Bon Appetit! Chef Jesse Houston has knocked it out of the ballpark with this new bivalve destination. Enjoy oysters anyway you wish along with a creative collection of entrees.
- Easy Bistro Chattanooga, Tennessee – A consistently impressive selection of premium oysters, Easy Bistro is a fabulous restaurant located in downtown Chattanooga. Enjoy slurping tasty bivalves while sipping on a craft cocktail.
- The John Dory Oyster Bar New York, New York – The John Dory is just one of Chef April Bloomfield’s incredible New York City restaurants. A super cool space with an oyster happy hour everyday from 5-7pm – we fell in love!
- Amen Street Fish And Raw Bar Charleston, South Carolina – A longtime resident of the Charleston area, Chef Ramon Taimanglo brings his love and appreciation of fresh ingredients, sustainable seafood and farm-to-table experience to Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar. There is a House Oyster that changes daily. Specialty oysters include Gigimotos, Beavertails, Piper Points, Malagashes, and more. Fresh oysters are $5.95 for 1/2 dozen or $8.95 for dozen – now that is a steal.
- Elysian Seafood New Orleans, Louisiana – Nola’s newest oyster bar has the menu and atmosphere to impress. Elysian boasts some of the freshest seafood you will find and a bustling vibrant vibe that will get your briny juices flowing!
- Indian Pass Raw Bar Indian Pass, Florida – Grab a seat and a drink from the cooler and make yourself at home. This American icon is a must for any shellfish connoisseur. The oysters are as fresh as they come and the beer is served by you from a cooler.